SciCombinator

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Concept: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Climate change and associated sea level rise (SLR) are already impacting low-lying coastal areas, including islands, throughout the world. Many of these areas are inhabited, many will need to be abandoned in coming decades as SLR continues. We examine the evolution (1850-2013) of the last inhabited offshore island in Virginia waters of Chesapeake Bay USA, the Tangier Islands. Three SLR scenarios, a low, mid, and high, were considered. Since 1850, 66.75% of the islands landmass has been lost. Under the mid-range SLR scenario, much of the remaining landmass is expected to be lost in the next 50 years and the Town will likely need to be abandoned. The high SLR scenario will accelerate the land loss and subsidence, such that the Town may need to be abandoned in as few as 25 years. We propose a conceptual plan that would significantly extend the lifespan of the islands and Town.

Concepts: Coast, Climate change, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, Virginia, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Derived from river monitoring data, concentration-discharge (C-Q) relationships are useful indicators of riverine export dynamics. A top-down synthesis of C-Q patterns was conducted for suspended sediment (SS), total phosphorus (TP), and total nitrogen (TN) for nine major tributaries (15 monitoring sites) to Chesapeake Bay, which represent diverse characteristics in terms of land use, physiography, and hydrological settings. Model coefficients from the recently-developed Weighted Regressions on Time, Discharge, and Season (WRTDS) method were used to make informative interpretation of C-Q relationships. Unlike many previous C-Q studies that focused on stormflow conditions, this approach allows simultaneous examination of various discharge conditions within an uncertainty framework. This synthesis on WRTDS coefficients (i.e., the sensitivity of concentration to discharge) has offered new insights on the complexity of watershed function. Results show that watershed export has been dominated by mobilization patterns for SS and TP (particulate-dominated species) and chemostasis patterns for TN (dissolved-dominated species) under many river discharge conditions. Among nine possible modalities of low-flow vs. high-flow patterns, the three most frequent modalities are mobilization vs. mobilization (17 cases), chemostasis vs. mobilization (13 cases), and chemostasis vs. chemostasis (7 cases), representing 82% of all 45 watershed-constituent pairs. The general lack of dilution patterns may suggest that none of these constituents has been supply-limited in these watersheds. For many watershed-constituent combinations, results show clear temporal non-stationarity in C-Q relationships under selected time-invariant discharges, reflecting major changes in dominant watershed sources due to anthropogenic actions. These results highlight the potential pitfalls of assuming fixed C-Q relationships in the record. Overall, this work demonstrates the utility of WRTDS model coefficients for interpretation of river water-quality data and for generation of sensible hypotheses on dominant processes in different watersheds. The approach is readily adaptable to other river systems, where long-term discretely-sampled data are available, to decipher complex interactions between hydrological and biogeochemical processes.

Concepts: Sediment, Hydrology, Estuary, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Many of the practices currently underway to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loads entering the Chesapeake Bay have also been observed to support reduction of disease-causing pathogen loadings. We quantify how implementation of these practices, proposed to meet the nutrient and sediment caps prescribed by the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), could reduce pathogen loadings and provide public health co-benefits within the Chesapeake Bay system.

Concepts: Eutrophication, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Management, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Studies documenting the capacity of restored streams to reduce pollutant loads indicate that they are relatively ineffective when principal watershed stressors remain intact. Novel restorations are being designed to increase the hydraulic connectivity between stream channels and floodplains to enhance pollutant removal, and their popularity has increased the need for measurements of potential load reductions. Herein we summarize input-output budgets of total suspended solids (TSS) in two Coastal Plain lowland valleys modified to create stream-wetland complexes located above the head-of-tide on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. Loads entering (input) and exiting (output) the reconfigured valleys over three years were 103 ± 26 and 85 ± 21 tons, respectively, and 41 ± 10 and 46 ± 9 tons, respectively. In both cases, changes in loads within the reconfigured valleys were insignificant relative to cumulative errors. High variability of TSS retention among stormflow events suggests that the capacity of these systems to trap and retain solids and their sustainability depend on the magnitude of TSS loads originating upstream, design characteristics, and the frequency and magnitude of large storms. Constructed stream-wetland complexes receiving relatively high TSS loads may experience progressive physical and chemical changes that limit their sustainability.

Concepts: Water, Estuary, Stream, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, Turbidity, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Defining the oxic-suboxic interface is often critical for determining pathways for nitrate transport in groundwater and to streams at the local scale. Defining this interface on a regional scale is complicated by the spatial variability of reaction rates. The probability of oxic groundwater in the Chesapeake Bay watershed was predicted by relating dissolved O2 concentrations in groundwater samples to indicators of residence time and/or electron donor availability using logistic regression. Variables that describe surficial geology, position in the flow system, and soil drainage were important predictors of oxic water. The probability of encountering oxic groundwater at a 30 m depth and the depth to the bottom of the oxic layer were predicted for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The influence of depth to the bottom of the oxic layer on stream nitrate concentrations and time lags (i.e., time period between land application of nitrogen and its effect on streams) are illustrated using model simulations for hypothetical basins. Regional maps of the probability of oxic groundwater should prove useful as indicators of groundwater susceptibility and stream susceptibility to contaminant sources derived from groundwater.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Water, Prediction, Estuary, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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This study estimates costs to agricultural producers of the watershed implementation plans (WIPs) developed by states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to comply with the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and potential cost savings that could be realized by a more efficient selection of agricultural BMPs and spatial targeting of BMP implementation. The cost of implementing the WIPs between 2011 and 2025 is estimated to be about $3.6 billion (in 2010 dollars). The annual cost associated with full implementation of all WIP BMPs from 2025 onwards is about $900 million. Significant cost savings can be realized through careful and efficient BMP selection and spatial targeting. If retiring 25% of current agricultural land is included as an option, Bay-wide cost savings of about 60% could be realized compared to the WIPs.

Concepts: Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, Virginia, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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To construct statistical models in order to predict the presence, abundance, and potential virulence of Vibrio vulnificus in surface waters of Chesapeake Bay for implementation in ecological forecasting systems.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Invasive species, Vibrio vulnificus, Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, Virginia, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) likely play a large role in the biogeochemistry of iron, making the detection and understanding of the biogeochemical processes FeOB are involved in of critical importance. By deploying our in situ voltammetry system, we are able to measure a variety of redox species, specifically Fe(ii) and O2, simultaneously. This technique provides significant advantages in both characterizing the environments in which microaerophilic FeOB are found, and finding diverse conditions in which FeOB could potentially thrive. Described here are four environments with different salinities [one fresh groundwater seep site, one beach-groundwater mixing site, one hydrothermal vent site (Mid-Atlantic Ridge), and one estuary (Chesapeake Bay)] where in situ voltammetry was deployed, and where the presence of FeOB were confirmed by either culturing methods or molecular data. The sites varied in both O2 and Fe(ii) content with O2 ranging from below the 3 μM detection limit of the electrodes at the Chesapeake Bay suboxic zone, to as high 150 μM O2 at the vent site. In addition, a range of Fe(ii) concentrations supported FeOB communities, from 3 μM Fe(ii) in the Chesapeake Bay to 300 μM in the beach aquifer. In situ electrochemistry provides the means to quickly measure these redox gradients at appropriate resolution, making it possible in real time to detect niches likely inhabited by microaerophilic FeOB, then accurately sample for proof of FeOB presence and activity. This study demonstrates the utility of this approach while also greatly expanding our knowledge of FeOB habitats.

Concepts: Water, Electrochemistry, Estuary, Hydrothermal vent, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Vibrio is a naturally occurring waterborne pathogen with potential occupational, recreational, and commercial impacts. During the last 15 years in the U.S. and in Maryland, the incidence of vibriosis has increased. Due to the increase in cases in Maryland, warming water temperatures, and public concern about human health effects resulting from exposure to the Chesapeake Bay, we reviewed cases of vibriosis and evaluated the Vibrio surveillance system in Maryland for timeliness and data quality, attributes necessary for successful outbreak investigation and illness prevention.

Concepts: Health, Epidemiology, Bacteria, Maryland, Vibrio, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, Chesapeake Bay Retriever